I´m grateful for all the people I´ve have met in my travels. They´ve helped me discovered new things about me.
La Paz is a very strange city. It´s like a hole surrounded by mountains. Streets are very steep and you have to “climb” them instead of walking them. The traffic is crazy and you have to be very careful when crossing a street. Cars won´t stop.
When I arrived, there were protests against the government. I was in the middle of them, just by chance. I didn´t feel threatened since I´m kind of used to protests. I have plenty of them in my country. But some people just stopped me in the street saying that I should avoid the crowd, that I could be robbed. I thanked them but it was impossible to get out without running into a group of protesters.
But yes, you have to be careful in La Paz. Not because of the protests if not because of the thieves. I was sitting in the main “plaza” with my bagpak on my lap. I just had my glasses on my hands. A little girl came and looked at me. Next thing I know she was hugging me. What do you do if a little girl hugs you? It´s very sweet, isn´t it? But it is not. The little one just tried to get something out of my bagpack and as it was zipped and she could´t open it she tried to grab my glasses. I said “hey, I need my glasses to see” and she smiled and tried to reach them, sort of struggle there till I finally got up and said “get off me”.
I walked and sat somewhere else but I saw the little one with two adults from the distance. They were saying something I couldn´t hear and the girl was listening to them. Later I was told she was being trained to steal.
You have plenty of handicrafts to see and beautiful fabrics, generally very very colorful. You can spend hours and hours browsing in those stores and you never get tired of the colorful designs.
At night I went for my last meal in Bolivia. The following morning I was coming back home.
My days in Rurrenabaque were very peaceful.
During the day, I went to the swimming pool and worked on my tan. When the sun was going down, I went visit my friends in town as if I were just another old friend or neighbor. We shared gossips, thoughts, beer and pizza, laughs.
When I went for a walk with the intention of taking pictures I ran into somebody, chatted for a while and hours went by so fast that by the time we said “see you later” it was either too hot to keep walking so I went straight to the pool or it was too late to take pictures and went for a beer.
In short, lazy days, living the life of a countryside girl (woman). Absolutely enjoyable.
La Pampa was an extraordinary experience, different from the jungle. It´s four hours from Rurre on an unpaved road and then 1 1/2 hours on a boat.
The lodge was very similar to that of the jungle and had more bathrooms and showers and we had a space with hammocks, which was our favorite spot at night after dinner.
The first day we went to see the sunrise while enjoying a fresh beer. It was really peaceful and magical.
The following days we had the chance to see lot of different animals, birds, monkeys, we went fishing and got piranhas for dinner, and swam with pink dolphins that are the ones that live in the rivers.
We didn´t find the anaconda, it seems that she was shy 🙂
On our way back, all of us were already missing La Pampa.
After my “airport adventure” I finally managed to get to the jungle!! I really don´t know how to start describing the experience.
Being in the jungle is very strange. Everything is foreign. Plants, animals, climate, sounds. It´s a challenging environment since you are not used to it. You need to observe, you need all your senses by your side.
The area is protected now and it´s known as Madidi National Park. We went to the Madidi by crossing the Beni river and going up the river Tuichi.
The lodge had just beds and the bathrooms were outside. We had water to shower but no electricity so we had to use our flashlights or candles.
We went for long walks with our guide. He was a native and knew the area pretty well but he was not a “guide” in the sense that he didn´t take care of the group as a trained one does. You can imagine that I wanted to take pictures so I stopped more than once. And then he was not there and I couldn´t see the path. I had to shout “hey, where are you, I can´t see you”.
We learnt a lot about plants mostly. Their medicinal uses and what part of the plant you needed for that purpose. We walked in silence since you need to hear the sounds of the jungle, you can´t ignore them. They give you the location of the animals for example. We knew that there was a herd of wild pigs that way. And it was pretty scary! so much so that I didn´t dare grab my camera. We stayed in silence, witnessed them and let them go!
There were lots of ants, spiders, bees, mosquitoes of course and butterflies. They were pretty hard to get!!
We also learnt how to make rings and necklaces out of seeds. It was pretty fun!
Our group was multicultural: three English girls, one guy from France and another guy from Switzerland and our guide from Bolivia or course. And me.
We had dinner with candles and then we just chatted or stayed out if the mosquitoes allowed it. We also went for walks at night.
We had to cross rivers on fallen trees and the girls practiced their skills in the lianas, but just for fun!!
It was a marvelous experience!! Later, I learnt that you could share some time in the native communities so I wrote down the web addresses for another time. It would have been pretty interesting to share some days with them (and practice my poor Quechua that consists of some words I still remember from a course I took some years ago).
We went back to Rurrenabaque since there was another area to explore.
From Buenos Aires, Argentina to Rurrenabaque, Bolivia.
Estimated time: 7 hours 15 minutes
I have to catch the first flight from Buenos Aires (Argentina) to Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). Get to the airport, hop on the plane, go back to the boarding area an hour later, stay there … hours till the airline finally announces that the flight gest cancelled due to mechanical problems. I lose the connecting flights.
First flight on time. I´m in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. I wait for the next flight to La Paz. Delayed. Nobody knows for how long. Hours. I lose the third flight.
I cannot take an early flight, I have to take the last one. I get to Rurrenabaque late in the evening.
The most impressive thing? The alternate world, when the plane crosses an imaginary line between the real world and the imaginary world … a really peaceful one.
I would have needed just 12 hours (counting the time between connecting flights) to get to Rurrenabaque. Instead, it took me three days. I would have come and gone to and from China in that time!!
I love meeting people when I travel. I´m in a new city or town hearing stories of other cities or towns, it´s like traveling to several places at the same time.
But I also love my moments of solitude, one day when I´m just on my own. And Sucre was my place of solitude.
After spending the night on the bus, I finally got to Sucre. It was very early in the morning, nobody to be seen in the streets. I took a taxi from the bus station to downtown Sucre, because there were no buses that early. I walked and walked trying to find a nice hotel. I needed a shower and a breakfast and some rest.
I had no plan for that day and the following. All I knew was that I had just two days before coming back to Salta in Argentina. And it was a long trip, 24 hours on a bus. So I tried to sleep well, relax, and enjoy the city.
Sucre is very friendly and very beautiful. My favorite place for breakfast was an old colonial house that belonged to the German Community. They had an exchange program so it was a hectic place. Another favorite place in Sucre was the scenic lookout at the top of a hill. Hard to get there with those steep streets but totally worth it.
No favorite restaurant in two days but I tried different food at different places. And downtown Sucre with its colonial architecture and white houses and flowers was very pretty.
I mostly walked and walked around till it was time to leave and come back to my country. I had three days left. One was going to be spent on a bus, the other two in Salta.